Brussels, 6 April 2023 (TDI): NATO Foreign Ministers have ended two days of discussions in Brussels with a meeting with Indo-Pacific partners; Australia, South Korea, Japan, and New Zealand, as well as the European Union (EU).

NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg stated that the participants discussed the global consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

He said that if President Putin achieved his aims in Ukraine the authoritarian regimes worldwide would resort to brute force to achieve their goals too.

He further stated that the alliance has also discussed the growing alignment between Russia and China.

“Allies have been clear that any provision of lethal aid by China to Russia would be a historic mistake with profound consequences.” said the Secretary-General

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He stressed the importance of NATO Allies and like-minded countries standing together as Russia and China push back against the rules-based order.

The Foreign Ministers also addressed threats and challenges such as instability and terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). Increased activities of Russia and China and defense spending were also discussed.

The Secretary-General expects that the Allies would agree on an ambitious defense investment pledge with a 2% increase in defense spending as a floor not as a ceiling.

Defense Spending Target & MENA 

The issue of increasing the defense spending by NATO members up to 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been a matter of debate in the alliance.

During the Trump administration, the debate gained a lot of media attention as President Trump demanded that the NATO members meet the 2% defense spending target.

In 2022 only seven out of 30 NATO members met the target of 2%  GDP defense spending. Apart from the growing challenge of China and Russia, the alliance is also concerned about developments in MENA.

Multiple threats emanate from the Southern periphery of NATO which include regional conflicts and state fragility. The threats create a challenging security environment for the alliance.